Margaret, I love your website! I was just about to post a question about my soil, and checked around the Q&A until I found your reply to somebody about mulch choices. I am reclaiming a large area at the barn where I ride from horrible nasty weeds like burdock and wild parsnip, by planting ground covers and other plants harvested from other parts of the property, from my property, and divisions donated by other riders. My plan is to create a winding path between the existing trees and some boulders and rock outcroppings, maybe put in a bench (also made from found objects/materials) that parents could lounge on while waiting for their kids. I am beginning to believe that this entire area is actually ONLY the kind of mulch you described: wood shavings and horse, er, "droppings." It’s at least 5 years old, but it will NOT hold any moisture at all. It has the consistency of sand, and dries out almost while you watch. The soil in another place I’m planting is pretty much solid clay, and I’m beginning to wish the big area had at least a LITTLE clay, so it would hold together and stay damp. My question is, what kind of amendment or other "mulch" can I add to the dry bed to improve the quality of the soil? I don’t need it to be fantastic soil, as I’m mostly planting cast-iron-will-grow-anywhere-and-tolerate-much-neglect stuff. I just don’t want to have to water everything every 3 hours! Any help you can offer, or another forum reader can offer, will be much appreciated.
Stacey in Upstate (REALLY—north of 88!)
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.